Faith Matters: We are coming into an era of spiritual awakening – New Haven Register

Faith Matters: We are coming into an era of spiritual awakening

From the book of Romans 13:8, it reads, Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. We are witnessing challenging times across this country and around the world. The treatment of people of color is different than others. We have witnessed a 17-year-old carry a weapon into a demonstration, wounding one person and killing two others and was able to drive home to Illinois. There are two systems of justice operating.

Where is the boldness in our collective outrage for wrongdoing regardless of the source? Where is our collective sense of a type of justice that can be equally dispensed? Where is the individual awareness that the law set forth by God is more powerful than that prescribed by humans?

There is a spiritual awakening taking place. Answers to many of the questions above are coming from our youth. Even though some of the violence is originating with young ones, so are the solutions. We are witnessing an era where new voices and new courage is stepping forward to change the tide. There is clearly a new awakening.

It seems that another black man is being murdered almost daily. The formula is the same where one can see the pattern. It is usually an unarmed black man being subdued or restrained and subsequently being shot by an officer. This is by no means intended to point fingers at officers, it is intended to more directly point to the narratives that have been driving us all down the wrong paths for far too long. We have all been subjected to narratives that when operationalized, victimizes us all in one way or another.

At the same time, we are coming into an era of a spiritual awakening. First there must be an acknowledgment that in many ways we have all be asleep or simply not paying attention to our collective complicity. There is an awakening taking place where the resistors are fighting back harder and the allies are standing bolder. What is very interesting in all of this is that the rhetoric stoking the flames of hate is becoming more clear for what it is. It is becoming easier to see where different paths of dialogue will lead to different outcomes and results.

We are coming into an era of spiritual awakening. There is new leadership emerging with new messages of hope that do not sound like messages we have heard for many years. In some cases, it requires a bit of assistance to appreciate and embrace the level of hope that comes through in many of the messages. We are learning to see multiracial and generational and gender collaborations where that was not the case in the past. This is part of the new spiritual awakening.

These are truly challenging times and at the same time, one has to ask under what better conditions to demonstrate and elevate the beliefs in persons of faith? What better environment could there be for the unfoldment of a new consciousness? We have to realize that it was our old thinking that has gotten us here and it will take something new to move this culture into the future. There is a new level of awareness presenting itself which can not be denied.

This has to be a time of a spiritual awakening. We have nowhere to go but up. Putting all of the challenges of this year on the table, we are left with the opportunity to search out that which gives us hope. If we simply wallow in the presenting problems we will most certainly become overwhelmed with by the challenges before us.

Regardless of your faith tradition, go to the source of your faith. If you have no faith tradition, consider the source of your power or what might empower you and gives you hope. And for those who appreciate words from the Bible, consider the words that started this essay with words about the law. Owe no one anything except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. This is the law that is calling upon everyone to abide by this law and that is what it truly means to experience your spiritual awakening.

The Rev. Dr. Leon Bailey is pastor of The Church of Bethlehem in Milford.

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Faith Matters: We are coming into an era of spiritual awakening - New Haven Register

Guiding Light: Spirituality and morality – Free Press Journal

-- Rajyogi Brahmakumar Nikunj ji

Looking at newspapers of major metro cities, it is clearly evident that attacks on the aged have increased enormously in the last couple of years. In most of these cases, culprits have been their long-trusted domestic help who robbed them of their life's savings and did not spare them either. There is no surprise that such incidents get media attention for a while but little comes out of it in the long term. Thus it looks as if the culprits are free to move around and the victims have nowhere to go.

Under such a scary scenario, there is not only growing distrust in the government and the law and order machinery but also lack of faith in interpersonal relationships. The need of the hour is to lay equal emphasis on developing a culture which produces human beings of benign conduct. In the above cases, greed for money led the people to perform immoral acts, and as such cases continue to rise, there is a coldness that has set into the system, which callously ignores the victims pleas. This does amount to a breach of the law, but it begins with a breach of morality. Unfortunately, no one dares to talk of morality these days, for those who do are accused of 'moral policing'.

Most people dismiss morality by saying that it differs from person to person; so who draws the line between right and wrong? It is possible to dissolve this difference by understanding spirituality as it is based on the truth that every human being is intrinsically virtuous and possesses qualities of wisdom, purity, peace, love and truth. So any act that goes against these fundamental qualities amounts to immorality and disturbs the social fabric. And so, to cleanse society of crime, there is a need to foster a culture of spirituality.

Spirituality adds dignity to how people look at each other. There is a need to use the latest technology, media and government channels to empower people to recognise their own goodness so that they obey laws themselves, and even if some people err, others in the society respond to the victims' appeals with greater responsibility and humanity. Such a culture would then be able to create harmony deep within people where laws cannot reach and promise inner security that fences and guards cannot provide.

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Guiding Light: Spirituality and morality - Free Press Journal

Science And Spirituality Sing Together – Wisconsin Public Radio News

Science and spirituality have often been portrayed as opposites or enemies, but for singer-songwriter Peter Mayer, they are intimately connected. His music has been described as spiritual or mystical, but, he said in a recent interview, "If I would think of myself as a mystic, I would also think of myself as a mystic who is very respectful and interested in science. That is, the ways that science has taught us to determine what actually is true."

The Minnesota musician recently took part in a phone interview with me for "Simply Folk." The coronavirus pandemic may have caused us to physically distance, but we were still able to connect and share conversation and music together.

Among the songs that Mayer shared during the interview was a track off his latest album, "Catching Rain." The song, "Come Back," was inspired by a story shared by Albert White Hat, a member of the Lakota Nation who was a teacher of and activist for the preservation of the Lakota language and traditional culture.

"(White Hat) talked about an experience that he had standing in front of a tree one time in his life and having this kind of mystical experience," Mayer recounted. "And the tree saying, 'Come back. Come back to me.' The tree representing nature, the natural world."

"We modern humans have found ways to sort of disconnect, at least psychologically and well in other ways, too, with the natural world," said Mayer. "And I think, ultimately, we do that at our own detriment, not only spiritually, but also just in terms of making good decisions about how to be on this planet and how to create a future on this planet."

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At a time in our world when science is as important as ever to helping humanity deal with the pandemic, Mayer sees the need for both science and spirituality. "The problem with mystics," he said, "is that we can imagine anything." Science brings that balance to verify what is true and not true in our physical world.

At the same time, science needs spirituality and the poets to help people connect to that truth.

"What I am interested in is the things that we've found to be true about reality and how to use our imaginations and our sort of spiritual practices to connect us to those things, because," he commented, "I think that science isn't always very good at it. It can tell us a story about the world, about reality, but it doesn't always help us to come to terms with it spiritually and at the heart level."

Science and spirituality have been connected for Mayer from a young age, as they both describe the world in which we live.

"Ive always been interested, ever since I was a kid," Mayer said, "(in) what is the nature of reality. Whats the bigger picture that were a part of? And nowadays, Ive come to really believe that the bigger picture is the world that we have discovered through science, the universe itself. And so how do we relate to that? Thats what Im interested in."

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Science And Spirituality Sing Together - Wisconsin Public Radio News

SPIRIT MATTERS: In matters of the spirit, spirituality matters – LaSalle News Tribune

Regular and longtime readers of this space have probably figured out by now there is at least one thing in my life I am passionate about.


Admittedly, this term can be confusing for many, and create all kinds of misunderstandings. When the question arises whether someone is spiritual or religious, many people see it in dualistic terms like you must be one or the other, but you cant be both.

This is just not true.

In fact, after reading about and studying spirituality for 25 years, I would propose that before religion comes into ones life, one is already, by birthright, a spiritual person.

Although it has been attributed to various people over the years, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is credited with originating this statement: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

This implies, that just by being born, each human is a spiritual being. Indeed, some would include in that spiritual being category, all living things animals, plants, trees

Before I sat down at the keyboard this week, I looked up the term spirituality to try to get a grasp on a generally accepted definition of what it means to be spiritual.

There are, of course, many factors that go into determining this, but probably the most basic answer is this, which appeared when I googled the word. This definition is from Oxford Languages:

the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

I might elaborate on that just a bit, to say that spirituality is an effort to find meaning, in ones own life, in others lives, in the world around them, and in the events that take place in their lives.

Another description of what it means to be a spiritual person came from an article on HuffPost in 2015. This one is more detailed than the above definition, but overall (and as in anything, there are exceptions), this definition better encapsulates what it means to be spiritual in these days in which we live:

Being a spiritual person is synonymous with being a person whose highest priority is to be loving to yourself and others. A spiritual person cares about people, animals and the planet. A spiritual person knows that we are all One, and consciously attempts to honor this Oneness. A spiritual person is a kind person.

Now, in reading this definition, we can see that it does not preclude spiritual people from also being religious. For some people, they dont have a spiritual awakening for years, even though they have practiced a religion for their entire life. In fact, most world religions, in one way or another, teach the highest priority of human life is to be loving to yourself and others.

As we all know, not all religious peoples lives reflect this, however. In fact, sadly, religions can be divisive, when seen as the be all and end all of existence.

Anyway, the reason I decided to write about this topic this week, is because I was thinking about 2020 and what an unusually, pardon my language, hellish year it has been. Honestly, humanity has been blindsided this year in more ways than we ever thought possible, at least in modern times. At least that is how it seems to those of us living it out. Now.

And I know for almost everyone scratch that everyone, adjusting to these new realities has been mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually challenging scratch that word challenging exhausting.

I know and have heard of many people with heightened anxiety and other mental health issues that are directly related to the extreme uncertainty we live with now.

Each day we awaken, we wonder what life is going to throw at us today.

It cannot possibly get any worse than it is already, we think.

But then it does.

So as someone who is passionate about spirituality, I look at it this way:

In many ways, there is not a lot we can do hands-on, at least not immediately, to resolve the circumstances we find ourselves in. Many of them, especially those more medically related, take time to research and find solutions to.

Others which are more systemically related with deep, thick, sprawling roots must be addressed with much dialogue and mutual respect. No easy answers here.

At the foundation of all these attempts to find a solution, however, is the need for each one of us to tap into that spiritual side of us, that is our birthright.

For months, millions of people have been at home, afraid to go out into public; many of them elderly with few family or friends to check on them.

Others have watched helplessly as nearly 200,000 Americans have succumbed to Covid-19, or complications from the virus. They have watched as dear family and friends have died painful, awful deaths, alone in a hospital room, without anyone even being able to physically touch their skin, or say goodbye. They have grieved their losses relatively alone, without the human support they so desperately need.

Hostilities related to all kinds of situations have boiled up and exploded in recent months, and only seem to be getting worse with each passing day.

As I write this today, I do so without, GOD FORBID, any intention of stirring up yet another political debate. Life is not all about politics. It is about so much more than that.

That is where this idea of spirituality comes in.

I believe that these terrible months we have all endured, if looked at in a positive light, have been an opportunity for every single one of us to get in touch with that spiritual side with which we were born.

That doesnt mean necessarily going to church. Many people cant go to church right now.

It is something more basic than that.

It is getting in touch with a loving Reality that undergirds all the pain and alienation so many of us feel from life, from each other, from ourselves

It is sitting still, quiet, and reaching out to that loving Reality to try to find out more about that Reality, and to find some way to make sense of it all.

Not that we will make sense of it all.

I have found in my life that when we go looking for answers as to why something happened, we might as well be beating our heads against a wall.

We just cannot be assured we will get an answer as to why something happened.


We can find meaning in it.often after much time has elapsed.

We can find ways to get grounded in this loving Reality that is eternal the beginning and the end of all things.

We can find ways to acknowledge that we are not isolated beingswe are connected to one another in ways we cannot imagine or explain.

And what happens to one of us, impacts the rest of us.

We can find ways to be the spiritual beings we are.those whose highest priority is to be loving to ourselves and others.those who care about people, animals and the planet.those who know that we are all One, and consciously attempt to honor this Oneness.

those who are kind

SPIRIT MATTERSis a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at jzblue33@yahoo.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.

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SPIRIT MATTERS: In matters of the spirit, spirituality matters - LaSalle News Tribune

Uzbek TV Urges Battle Against ‘Spiritual Viruses’ (Homosexuality And Feminism) Threatening The Nation – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

Uzbek state television has launched an attack on feminism and homosexuality, saying they don't belong in the predominantly Muslim Central Asian country.

In the 90-minute live program known as Munosabat (Attitude), the station -- which serves as a mouthpiece for the government -- targeted a social-media flash mob held by young Uzbek women who were protesting violence against women and domestic abuse.

The flash mob was organized in July after a 17-year-old girl was physically assaulted by a man as she walked her dog in a Ferghana city park. Police are investigating the incident.

The program's presenter, Quddus Azamov, and six guests -- three of them from the Defense Ministry -- failed to condemn the attack on the girl. Instead, they criticized the slogans used by the flash mob and the Western-style clothes worn by the women in it, unanimously describing them as a "shameful" display.

The women in the flash mob posted photos on social media of themselves holding banners with slogans such as "A Woman isn't an incubator"; "My body, my own business"; "A daughter-in-law is not a maid"; and "My shorts aren't an invitation to catcall."

The guests on the TV program were infuriated by the slogans, calling them a dangerous trend that leads to women not wanting to have children or respect their in-laws.

In traditional Uzbek families, new daughters-in-law are expected to do most of the family's housework and to bear children.

"The women should see it as being a maid of their own future...because they set an example for their own children," said Omonbek Botayorov, the head of the Defense Ministry's Department for Spirituality and Enlightenment and a guest on the program.

Fellow guest Jamila Shermuhammedova from the Marifat (Enlightenment) society said feminism was being taken to a new level that will ultimately undermine the man's traditional role in the family.

Some Uzbek women "no longer want to breastfeed their babies" and "even hire babysitters" instead of raising their children themselves, she said.

Shermuhammedova and others criticized the women for holding banners written in Russian as yet another sign of young Uzbeks' disrespect for their own mother tongue and culture in general.

They also agreed that one banner -- "My body, my own business" -- literally meant "selling one's body" and therefore promoted prostitution.

How To Spot Homosexuals

While the main focus of the program was to attack the flash mob, the guests also warned against the dangers of same-sex marriages and gender-reassignment surgery, with some transgender people "having already come to Russia."

They urged young Uzbeks not to fall under the influence of homosexuals and to not copy -- intentionally or inadvertently "gay people's fashion."

According to the TV guests, gay men display styles that signal their sexual orientation. For example, they wear very short or no socks and shave the hair on their temples. "This is how gay people in Europe recognize each other," said Mansur Musaev, an official from the Department of Spirituality and Enlightenment.

Shermuhammedova boasted that she had once shamed two young Uzbek twins who had such a hairstyle. She said she stopped them -- complete strangers -- on the street and asked if they knew "what their hairstyles meant."

Program host Azamov, meanwhile, said he found it difficult to "even pronounce the dirty word 'lesbian.'"

'Fight Before It's Too Late'

The TV guests suggested taking certain measures to fight the threats of the cultural and spiritual "virus" that they claimed were more dangerous to Uzbekistan than the COVID-19 pandemic.

The flash mob and feminist campaigns were organized by certain forces from abroad, the guests insisted. "There are invisible, powerful forces behind it," they warned, without naming any person, group, or country.

Shermuhammedova and Botayorov repeatedly spoke about the need to adopt an unspecified "law" to fight these threats to Uzbek society, mentality, and moral values. Shermuhammedova also called for the "monitoring of families" to ensure parents are meeting their responsibilities in raising their children.

They all said that it was a "historic moment" to fight these threats before they ultimately destroy society. "If we don't stop it, our future will be ruined. Our children will no longer listen to us, they will tell us, 'I'm a grown-up person now,'" veteran actor Yodgor Sadiev said.

"We still have time," he said. "We must preserve our Uzbek traditions, our nation's wisdom."

While the Munosabat program resulted in some angry criticism on social media sites, it appears that the majority of Uzbeks remain wary of the "cultural influence" of the West.

Uzbek society remains very strictly family-oriented, with traditional, well-defined roles for men and women.

Uzbek women enjoy equal rights to work and study, but at home are expected to adhere to their traditional role of obeying their husbands and in-laws, doing housework, and taking care of the children.

In Uzbekistan, homosexuality among men is still defined in the legal code as a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison.

Same-sex relations among women are not mentioned in the law.

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Uzbek TV Urges Battle Against 'Spiritual Viruses' (Homosexuality And Feminism) Threatening The Nation - Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

Spiritual Resiliency Trips in the Holy Land – kacc.nrmc.amedd.army.mil

JORDAN 09.01.2020 --

With its historic sites, other-worldly landscapes, and beautiful weather, the Kingdom of Jordan is a popular location for U.S. service members to be stationed overseas.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, opportunities for service members to explore Jordan have been limited. Preventing the spread of the virus to protect the force has remained a priority.

As Jordan has demonstrated a phenomenal response to COVID-19, some restrictions have eased. Jordan has maintained one of the lowest number of confirmed cases per capita among all countries in the world through its comprehensive screening and quarantine measures. Now, with the proper safety measures in place, units have been able to arrange controlled day trips to boost morale among their service members.

Among these are Spiritual Resiliency Trips led by U.S. Army Chaplain (Maj.) Adam Kawaguchi and Staff Sgt. William Baker of Area Support Group-Jordan. Their trips bring service members to religious sites described in the Bible and other religious texts.

Throughout time, Jordan has been the location of numerous events of religious significance. The importance of these sites is quickly impressed upon service members once they see them in person, according to Kawaguchi.

Weve done five trips so far for 26 Soldiers in the month of August, said Kawaguchi, who is mobilized in support of ASG-J with the 301st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Most of the feedback has been extremely positive. Some people have been profusely grateful after what they say has been a particularly difficult year."

"Its a great opportunity for Soldiers to learn about the dynamic history of the Middle East and how it impacts the modern world," added Col. Derek Ulehla, the Commander of ASG-J.

In a recent trip, Kawaguchi and Baker led individuals to the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ and Mount Nebo. At the Baptism Site, service members enjoyed an intimate walkthrough with an official tour guide from Jordans Baptism Site Commission.

Pilgrims and tourists have visited these sites in unprecedented low numbers during the pandemic. Visiting service members have been fortunate to enjoy the sites in the absence of crowds, and have been happy to help support the local economy of a valued U.S. ally.

Many of the Jordan sites are very close to original condition, said Kawaguchi. We're very impressed that the Kingdom of Jordan has been so proactive in their COVID response to allow us these opportunities.

Kawaguchi and Baker will continue to lead SRTs through the fall as long as COVID-19 cases in Jordan remain controlled.

The U.S. military is in Jordan to partner with the Jordan Armed Forces to meet common security objectives in the region. Jordan is one of the U.S.s closest allies in the world.

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Spiritual Resiliency Trips in the Holy Land - kacc.nrmc.amedd.army.mil

Spiritually Speaking: Lets hear it for our teachers – Wicked Local Norwood

The best teachers are those who show you where to look but dont tell you what to see.

--Alexandra K. Trenfor

I am who I am this day because of the teachers God blessed me with in this life.

Teachers: who opened my mind and heart to new knowledge. Teachers: who brought out of me talents that I did not even realize I possessed. Teachers: who saw something in me I could not see myself. Teachers: who with patient love, reminded me that I was so much more than I might I think I was, at any given moment.

I often get this way in late August, wistful and a bit nostalgic, as I remember all those first days of school, from childhood into young adulthood; as I recall the many teachers who taught me. Even though its been more than 30 years since I sat in a school classroom or studied for a degree, when early September hits, I long for the heady mix of anticipation and anxiety that always marks the return to education.

I can still smell those pink erasers from elementary school. Can still feel the newness of an unmarked notebook, all those blank pages just waiting to be filled up. Can still remember the excitement I felt when, on the very first day of class, my new teacher walked in the door. What would I learn from them? How would the study of this new subject change me? Just what would this new teacher be like?

And this September!?

Man, do I feel for all the teachers in the COVID world we now live in. For them, the beginning of a new semester or term in the fall of 2020 is filled with so many unknowns and so much at stake and so much worry and so many questions. Can I teach again in a physical classroom and be safe and healthy? Will the young people in my care thrive in virtual learning or will they stumble? Will parents be supportive and encouraging or critical and discouraging? Will the administration have my back or will I be out there, all alone? Am I appreciated?

Heres an idea: lets actually thank the teachers in our lives this day, the brave and dedicated women and men who teach our sons and daughters, who taught us; the ones whom we trust with our nations most precious resource: children and youth. Right now, they may have about the toughest job in this world.

So, thank you Miss Carol, my kindergarten teacher. Even though on graduation day I still could not tell time by the half-hour or tie my shoes by myself, your care and patience made my very first days in the classroom fun.

Thank you Miss Richards, my high school French teacher. How did you put up with me!? Je ne sais pas (I do not know) was the only phrase I seemed to learn in your class, along with ferme la fenetre (close the window) and la pomme de terre (potato). I goofed around as a cover for how much the French language perplexed me and yet you never raised your voice, and even helped me squeak by with a C.

Thank you Professor Beck: I didnt know how much I needed to be an Old Testament major in graduate school until you opened the pages of that ancient text and made it come alive for me, with how much you loved and honored the sacred word. You are still with me in every sermon I preach.

Which teacher do you need to thank this day? Who was the teacher that inspired you? Loved you and believed in you, like no one else? Who is the teacher that helped your child realize their potential? Who was the font of knowledge, the educator, that made you want to learn, sparked in you a passion for a subject or an idea or a career?

Teachers and good teaching matters. Teachers, the best ones, shape souls and minds and hearts. In my faith tradition the one title, the most honored title, reserved for Jesus was rhabbouni, which in the ancient Aramaic tongue, simply means teacher.

So, to my teacher friends this new school year: to Jill the kindergarten teacher, and Jen the preschool teacher, and Kelley the preschool director, and Alison the high school librarian, and Adam, who teaches the blind and Maria, who works with autistic children: I am praying for you and rooting for you and thanking God for you, and for all that you do. For all that teachers do, every single day.

Thank you. Thank you! And Miss Richards? Merci beaucoup!!

The Rev. John F. Hudson is senior pastor of the Pilgrim Church, United Church of Christ, in Sherborn (pilgrimsherborn.org). If you have a word or idea youd like defined in a future column or have comments, please send them to pastorjohn@pilgrimsherborn.org or in care of The Press (Dover-Sherborn@wickedlocal.com).

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Spiritually Speaking: Lets hear it for our teachers - Wicked Local Norwood

Harvest Moon spiritual meaning: What does the September Full Moon mean for you? – Express

Tomorrows Full Moon falls arrives in Aquarius.

Auarius energy is focused on the collective.

As a result it is all about our roles within friendships, social groups, and our communities.

Because it is the final Full Moon before the seasons change, it is seen as an opportunity to harvest everything we can before we embrace into the new season.

You may well feel this way about something or someone at this time.

Another aspect might be responsible for getting you so worked-up this Sunday.

Mercury in Virgo Opposes Neptune and it is therefore little wonder you are unable to accurately articulate your thoughts.

They are all befuddled, muddled, lost amid dreams and delusions.

Your mind is under a romantic spell and theres no waking it up especially at the tail end of the weekend.

Let your brain recuperate and note your dreams as they could provide the solution.

The Venus-Pluto motto can be summarised as if I cant find love, then I guess Ill hate.

This is because feeling nothing is the worst experience of them all.

Tonights Aquarius Moon maintains its cool-minded presence amid all this madness due to the influence of Aquarius.

And so theres hope for some rational decisions yet.

Aquarius is actually considered to be one of the less rational star signs.

However, you can trust Aquarius to express their views in a calm, scientific manner.

This is something everyone can get on board with.

As the Moons Sextiles Asteroid Chiron and squares Uranus, things sit on a precarious edge.

But this is only for a moment, so perhaps it is an opportunity to try a new approach.

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Harvest Moon spiritual meaning: What does the September Full Moon mean for you? - Express

Cardinal Parolin says there’s a spiritual harmony between Francis and Benedict XVI – La Croix International

In book preface, the Vatican's Secretary of State emphasizes the "natural continuity of the papal magisterium" between the current pope and his retired predecessor

Pope Francis and Benedict XVI at the Vatican on December 22, 2018. (Photo by VATICAN MEDIA/EPA/MAXPPP)

Contrary to what some say or want to believe, a newly published book in Italian insists there is no fundamental opposition between Pope Francis and his still living predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Una sola Chiesa (Just One Church) was released Sept. 1 by Rizzoli Publishing. It compares numerous excerpts from the two men's papal teachings to show their profound convergence.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See's Secretary of State since October 2013, has written a preface to the new book in which he argues that there is a "spiritual harmony" between Benedict and Francis, despite "the difference in their styles of communication".

Beyond the contrasts in the two men's "pastoral style", the cardinal argues that there is a "natural continuity of papal magisterium" in their teachings.

Parolin points out that this continuity is all the more special because it has "a unique character: the presence of a pope emeritus in prayer at the side of his successor".

He says this unique situation is reinforced by the "strong mutual affection" between the two popes, which allows for an "intimate and profound closeness".

The Italian cardinal especially notes Benedict's "extraordinary manifestation of tenderness" towards Francis, when in 2016 he said to him, "your goodness is the place where I live and feel protected".

On several occasions since the papal transition in 2013, both Pope Francis, 83, and Benedict, 93, have refuted rumors of any dissension between them.

The retired pope in 2018 dispelled the "senseless prejudice" of those who see "the figure of Pope Francis as opposed to mine".

There is an "interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament," Benedict insisted at the time.

Francis has repeatedly confided that he considers his predecessor to be akin to a "grandfather in the home".

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Cardinal Parolin says there's a spiritual harmony between Francis and Benedict XVI - La Croix International

‘God Has Not Left Them’: Operation Blessing and Others Offer Aid and Spiritual Hope for Laura Survivors – CBN News

LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana Cleanup operations are well underway across southern Texas and Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Laura.

While visiting the region Saturday, President Trump echoed the surprise many people expressed at the tremendous power of the storm when it hit.

"This was almost coming in at a (Category) 5. I believe it was a five a little bit offshore, 150 miles an hour, but it was up to 185 at one point out offshore, I don't think we've ever seen that" Trump said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said, "That was the strongest storm to ever strike Louisiana. I was talking to some individuals here today who've been living here all their lives. They can never remember hurricane-force winds this far in north Louisiana that we experienced."

And like everything else this year, the response has been affected by the COVID crisis.

Gov. Edwards said, "Being a good neighbor means doing all the things you would normally do during a storm, just doing it from 6 feet away and with a mask on, because we still are the state in the country with the most cases per capita, we still have tremendous challenges from COVID."

But the governor is receiving some criticism from residents about putting too much emphasis on the virus threat, which they say pales in comparison to the danger from this storm.

Especially in poor communities, people rely on local emergency shelters to help them survive both during and after the storm. But Governor Edwards closed all the local shelters in advance of Hurricane Laura, instead of encouraging people to make the trek to hotels in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, several hours away. Those who were unable to do that for whatever reason now feel like they've been abandoned.

Resident Billy Ray Richarde said, "We don't have water. The water is off in Lake Charles, they tell me, so we drinkin' rainwater."

The Golden Arms Apartments is a subsidized living facility that houses about 400 residents over age 65. Most of them got out before the storm hit, but a lack of transportation resulted in sixty or so riding out the storm. Without a local shelter to go to, they were stuck without essential services.

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Richarde said, "The lights went out like two o'clock in the morning during the hurricane."

Now left without power, water, or transportation, these residents aren't sure what will happen to them. CBN's Operation Blessing scrambled to get some aid to the Golden Arms Apartments until they could be safely evacuated.

But the hotels are already full of refugees, and that fact is also hindering responders coming to help with the cleanup, now unable to find anywhere to stay.

The Louisiana National Guard has deployed hundreds of troops to help with cleanup efforts. Captain Randy Burdeaux with the 20th Engineer Battalion of the Louisiana Army National Guard is the unit's chaplain.

Burdeaux told CBN News, "Especially when they get back from being evacuated, they're going to be in devastation, so any way we can give 'em some encouragement, we're all in this together."

But Burdeaux says the greatest needs aren't food, water, or electricity.

"Their biggest needs right now are definitely prayers for spiritual help, and to know that God is here. You know, God is our refuge, an ever-present help in time of trouble. And anything that we can give them to remind them that God has not left them, is what we can do. Pray for it," he said.

CBN's Operation Blessing US Disaster Relief team, who arrived in Natchitoches, LA on Thursday, is still working with local churches to serve the needs of residents.

Operation Blessing is planning to deliver a water purification system this week to a hospital to help it get back up and running.

And OB has already brought food and water to people in need, along with flashlights - which many people have to have because hundreds of thousands are still without power after Laura crushed homes and knocked out power.

To give to Operation Blessing's Disaster Relief fund, call: 1-800-700-7000 orCLICK HERE.

Originally posted here:

'God Has Not Left Them': Operation Blessing and Others Offer Aid and Spiritual Hope for Laura Survivors - CBN News

Material and spiritual acts – Daily Pioneer

While material acts may or may not be rewarded, spiritual acts come under the exclusive jurisdiction of God, writes AJIT KUMAR BISHNOI

We are always carrying out acts with our bodies, minds and speech. In this classification, the mind and the speech are mentioned separately, because their functions need to be highlighted. Mind is always busy thinking about all sorts of things. It is said that there are on average 50,000 thoughts per day. Even during sleep when the brain is active, the mind must be too. The speech has been singled out of all the senses, because it makes a big difference in our lives. Suppose we speak angrily to someone, we evoke a negative reaction almost instantly. On the other hand, if we appreciate someone, we endear ourselves to that person.

There are two types of acts material and spiritual. Material acts are basically in relation to material objects like the use of hands to do some physical work or walk to go to some place. Spiritual acts are in relation to the spirit, that is either soul or God. Prayer said to God is one example, and treat others as equal souls, irrespective of their bodies is another. (The Gita 13.27)

To start with the material acts, all acts done either by the body or the mind or the speech come to fruition. Mostly, there is a time lag but some acts bring instant result. Some of the acts come to fruition in future lives. That is what distinguishes horoscopes of different people. Then, some acts bring small rewards like a labourer working all day getting paid meagre wages at the end of the day, while a scientist may make an important discovery and earn millions. What one gets is overseen by divine authorities. God has set rules, which divine authorities implement. They have no independent jurisdiction. However, it is difficult for us to know what exactly is in store for us. Both the timing and the type are generally shrouded in mystery. Material acts have no permanence; we do them and we are rewarded or punished.

On spiritual acts, Lord Krishna has spoken about them extensively in The Gita. For example, in the verse #2.40, he has stated that neither there is waste of effort in it nor there is opposite effect. Such acts are only beneficial. He has said that even a small spiritual act protects one from great fear. Such acts are never extinguished like the material acts. They keep on accumulating to our credit. If these acts relate to God, He gets involved personally in rewarding the doer. Of course there are many different types of spiritual acts, and they all please God. The Lord has mentioned many such acts in the twelfth chapter of The Gita (12.13-19). Lord Krishna specifically mentions those faithful, who have made Him their shelter, who follow the nectar of wisdom spoken by Him, are exceedingly dear to Him. (12.20) In another place, the Lord mentions those who preach His supreme secret knowledge amongst His devotees. He states that no other than them please Him more. (18.68-69)

God rewards doers of spiritual acts in many ways. They get their desired objects. Sanjaya mentions a few such rewards; they get opulence, victory and wealth. (18.78) The Lord does mention two types of devotion. One is for material gains like an artharthi (seeker of wealth) or an artah (distressed person). This is sakama bhakti. The other type of bhakti is nishkama in which the focus is on gaining liberation. The later one is of course higher because getting liberated from the cycle of birth and death is the ultimate gain for the small soul.

While material acts may or may not be rewarded, spiritual acts come under the exclusive jurisdiction of God. He always takes note of all spiritual acts. One must remember, God is never a debtor; He does not have to be. He must reward anyone who pleases Him in some way or other. God is unbelievably generous.

Bishnoi is a spiritual writer and can be reached at spiritual@ajitbishnoi.com

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Material and spiritual acts - Daily Pioneer

Serving those who serve others: behavioral health and spiritualitys role to encourage resiliency – United States Army

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA-- The stress of working in the midst of a global pandemic can take its toll on service members, especially those working on the front lines. More than 150 airmen in COVID Theater Hospital-1 (CTH-1) have responded to a shortage of healthcare workers at the direction of U.S. Army North.Religious affairs programs and behavioral health teams are supporting airmen integrated into local hospitals throughout California. The airmen are members of CTH-1, supporting healthcare workers in eight hospitals.U.S. Air Force Maj. Chelsea Arnold, a clinical social worker, and Tech Sgt. Susan Kicker, a mental health technician assigned to CTH-1 from the 60th Medical Group, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., have formed one such team to, providing behavioral health services to airmen serving Adventist Health Lodi Memorial Hospital in Lodi and Dameron Hospital in Stockton.Most of the members that attend our classes have never dealt with this much suffering in their jobs, said Kicker. It can be very hard to deal with.Some of the big stressors that weve seen are the death and sickness that people are dealing with, said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Mark Habluetze, a chaplain from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.The behavioral health teams and religious service teams have organized a variety of social activities to battle the unique challenges of providing aid to COVID-stressed civilian hospitals. These include guided meditation, painting classes, yoga, hikes, and behavioral health check-ins.You need to gather with others dealing with the same thing, not just go sit in your room alone at night, Kicker said.U.S. Air Force Capt. Bridget Caulkins, a physician with CTH-1, has attended these events and stressed their importance.Take care of yourself so you can take care of others, Caulkins said.During one of these events, Arnold led a guided meditation before Kicker guided the group through painting a field of poppy blooms at sunset. The airmen sat together as they brushed swatches of yellows, purples and reds into a serene landscape.Its a great way to get together and manage stress, Kicker said.Arnold uses her own expertise in yoga to lead sessions of meditative movement for the airmen. According to an article by the National Institutes for Health, studies have shown that yoga, in addition to strengthening the body, can help improve general wellness by relieving stress and improving mental and emotional health.Caulkins, a physician, is an enthusiastic participant in these yoga practices.The yoga class really helps manage stress and I preach this in my own practice, Caulkins said.Arnold also organizes behavioral health check-ins to provide a simple means of support: someone to listen.We sit in the atrium of the hotels where the providers live and are just there if someone wants to talk, Arnold said.The impact of the behavioral health teams efforts is easy to see as the health providers came to and from their duty stations in civilian hospitals.Many of them walk by, smile and wave, said Arnold.They say, We are so happy to have you here. Just in case. It has been a very positive reaction."U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Monnett, a religious affairs airman from the 325th Fighter Wing based in Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., also provided a listening ear for the airmen coming to and from the front lines of Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.Im there if someone needs to de-stress, complain about the day, get that burden off their chest, said Monnett.According to Habluetzel, religious affairs strives to cover the spiritual needs of all people.Youre dealing with people from all walks of life, all faiths, no faith, said Habluetzel. Youre giving people spiritual care no matter where they came from.He said that communication and support from others is a key part in this spiritual care.We want to show these providers how to deal with stress, build coping mechanisms. We want to show them how to have a spiritual connection with each other, said Habluetzel.The best way to respond to these crazy times and remain resilient is to take care of ourselves so we can help each other, according to Arnold.That can make all the difference.Follow more on Facebook at @46MPC and @USArmyNorth

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Serving those who serve others: behavioral health and spiritualitys role to encourage resiliency - United States Army

Reawakening Of Pagan India And The Challenge It Can Pose To Abrahamic Worldviews: Part I – Swarajya

Ever since Abram and Sarai set foot in the Promised Land and subsequently changed their names to Abraham and Sarah, the concept of spirituality assumed a course of aggression that culminated in the physical destruction of many ancient cultures that had gone before them.

History and myth intersected with the advent of Christianity and the symbolic subjugation of Canaan and its idol-worshipping polytheists became concretely entrenched in the real historical trajectory of Abrahams spiritual descendants the Christians and the Muslims.

Whereas Abrahams exploits are pure myth and confined to the book, these two derivative faiths ploughed a path of destruction of ancient pagan temples and the forcible conversion of cultures all over the earth. A terrible campaign of genocide was unleashed to an extent hitherto unknown to the human species.

Almost every important church and mosque that exists today on earth has been built on the sacred cultural site of a vanquished people that lies buried with their gods and goddesses, known and unknown.

What looked like an unstoppable monotheistic train to many for nearly 2,000 years now looks spent as a spiritual force and the rationale that justified their actions now seems spurious and fake in the light of reason and the collective experience of the species.

But the charade goes on as if human intellect, rationality and experience are merely a negotiable matter and that they are on a par with superstitions and unsubstantiated a priori assumptions.

In this background, 5 August 2020 is a watershed in spiritual and cultural history. It signals a reversal of the current spiritual trend, and that fact is going to be etched in stone.

A very important pagan temple is rising from its own ashes like the proverbial phoenix for the first time in history. The foundation stone was laid for the Sri Ram Temple in Ayodhya that was demolished by Islamic fanatics in 1528.

Unlike the famous Somnath temple that could never be completely destroyed, the Ram Temple lay buried beneath the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, virtually smothering the memories of the descendants of those who built it. But the chimes that reverberate in the chants of Jai Sri Ram are embers that were never doused in the Hindu collective unconscious.

This essay traces the fortunes of the religions and cultures that evolved organically in India and elsewhere and held sway in human history once upon a time. It also shows how the natural course of these cultures was diverted through physical force, laying bare the truth that it is not intellectual force, but physical might that determines dominant spirituality.

The spiritual reversal that is evident in the rebuilding of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya perhaps physically signals the redemption of the human evolutionary process that had come to stagnate with the advent of the Abrahamic faiths. This event assumes great spiritual significance and calls for collective introspection. It signals a radical change in the thought process of the species.

The Term Pagan

For most people with a Western orientation, the term 'pagan' evokes an innately derogatory sense. Currently, this term is rarely used by common people, but when used it doesnt fail to connote an uncivilised quality in human behaviour.

Today, the term is generally viewed as archaic by educated people as most deem the term to be outdated history, because one would wonder whether a genuine 'pagan' lives today in flesh and blood.

According to the online Merriam-Webster, the term is derived from late Latin paganus, a term to address non-Christians: "The definition and etymology of heathen overlap with those of pagan: both words denote 'an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible, and heathen, like pagan, is believed to have come from the term for a country inhabitant, or in this case, a 'heath dweller.

Pagans were simply those of the human species who were not Jews, Christians or Muslims and hence do not acknowledge the god of Abraham as the sole god or the exclusive source of divinity.

However, the disparaging connotation the term carries doesnt justify itself, embedded as it is in tribalistic jargon showing a deep-rooted prejudice among the adherents of the three faiths traditionally called the people of the book, indicating the common origins of their faith in Moses Bible, the 'holy' book.

There is no anthropological study undertaken in any university in the world specifically about pagan cultures that have been annihilated, and whether there remain any traces of them today and to what extent they have changed or adapted to survive the onslaught of relatively new, predatory and tribalistic cults such as Christianity and Islam.

The only acknowledgement of the old 'pagan' in the West is the attempt by a miniscule group to resurrect the ancient pagan culture by the so-called neo-pagan movement.

Paradoxically, it is this neo-pagan movement that is being researched by modern Western scholars. To my knowledge, excluding Walking the Worlds, a biannual journal of polytheism, there is no publication devoted to the old pagan culture in the West today.

Origins Of The Contempt For The Pagan

The first attacks on pagans and their cultures by the Christians took place nearly 2,000 years ago and ushered in a new era in human history. This was a turning point hailed as 'progressive' by Christians, but for the varied cultures that were annihilated, the Christians were evil executioners who destroyed their tradition and high culture.

Pliny the Younger (62 to 113 CE), who was sent by the Roman emperor of that time, Trajan, to keep the peace between the early Christians and non-Christians, reported back that Christianity was a vile superstition carried to an immoderate length . The contagion of the superstition has pervaded not only the cities but the villages and country districts as well[1]. Pliny also mentions the Christians hatred of humanity.

The first flush of Christianity manifested itself a few hundred years after Pliny, which period would be designated as the 'dark ages' by its own 'enlightened' members some centuries later.

During this time, the term 'pagan' denoted the utmost degree of evil so that any trace of the existence of any pagan cultural element or knowledge that went against Christian dogma was considered an affront to Christianity, and the converts strived to annihilate them as quickly as possible.

Conversion by force was the rule rather than the exception in much of medieval Europe. Those who resisted were often murdered without further ado.

Christians were very much like the Muslim hordes that raided and plundered the whole of West Asia and beyond a few centuries later. Challenging their doctrines was called heresy and heretics were often condemned to torture and death.

Today, what Pliny called the contagion of vile superstition has spread almost all over the earth. The little remains of the untouched Amazon forests, and the North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal, are among the last vestiges of the pure world where the contagion did not get a chance to infect the human mind.

Where brute force would have amply sufficed in the jolly good days of Christianity, now the Catholic Pope has to make concessions for his priests in the Amazon in view of the earthy and healthy pagan outlook on celibacy and sex.

Where a few burnings at the stake would have sufficed then, the conversions are now realised in secrecy, by coercion and subterfuge.

Around 600 years after the Christian contagion began to disseminate freely, it met with a competitor from Arabia in the form of Islam.

Being the spitting image of Christianity in tribal character, having the same antecedents originating from Jewish scriptures, Islam too has a term equivalent to 'pagan' and 'heathen': the 'kafir'. The exclusion of people of the book from these originally derogatory terms attests to their common origin in Judaic scriptures and the faith of Abraham.

Members of these two religions have different rules and regulations for the allegedly inferior unconverted people whenever the former achieve political power in a region.

Objectively speaking, the common feature of the people of the book is tribalism. This distinction between the tribalist and its 'other', the pagan or kafir, transmuted into the esoteric theory of two human races the 'Adamic humanity' and 'pre-Adamic humanity', attested by the Russian historian and philosopher Boris Mouravieff in modern times.

The different rules for the heathens and kafirs point to the tribal doctrine of 'we' and 'them'. Whereas for the Jews the tribal god remained their own personal god of the tribe, the jurisdiction of the tribal god of the Christians and Muslims is violently extended and forced upon the whole species, beyond their own tribes, with the injunction that theirs is the only god that is real.

The result was the most involuted monotheism ever, as the people of the book initiated and sustained a colossal exercise in sophistry that regularly pendulated from utter nonsense to utter nonsense in order to prevail over the pagans and kafirs. It was an indulgence that nevertheless did not fail to fool not just themselves but their converts.

To sum up, tribal challenges such as 'our god', 'their god' and 'we' and 'them' define these two religions and the pagans and kafirs collectively became the social other and the butt of their gods ire.

For this reason, Christianity and Islam by doctrine resist sharing the same laws with the pagans, even when the pagans are in greater number such as was the case in the Roman Empire of 2,000 years ago or as is the case in India now.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Christianisation of a large part of Europe happened in a matter of few centuries. The fall of the Persian Empire to Islam was even quicker. For the first time in human history, dynamic tribalism promoted by organised violence made rapid advances.

The army of fanatics ploughed its way through peaceable pagan societies across continents, mowing them down one by one as it made its way across continents and countries.

What shocked the pagans and paralysed their limbs and minds was the utter disregard of the tribalists for the civilsational ethos that had been refined and established by the species and which generally prevailed almost all over the planet even in matters of war.

The marauding armies of faith were driven by a blind zeal that is the chief characteristic of Abrahamic believers, the people who were systematically brainwashed from childbirth by the repeated chanting of superstitions.

The religious prejudice against the heathen and the kafir is kept alive with fanatic fervour by their mandatory daily reading of their Stone Age scriptures.

In this regard it may be pertinent to quote here an expert in polytheism, an exceptional Western scholar, Dr Edward Butler, in order to understand the hatred for the pagan that still exists in the typical Western psyche (collective unconscious) despite the apparent disappearance of the old fanatic Christian zeal from public sphere:

The intolerance toward Hinduism is rooted in fear and loathing of polytheism. Polytheism was not simply left behind in the West, it did not die of natural causes; in fact, it didnt die at all, because the Gods are still here. Christendom has been fighting its war against them for two millennia now, and it grows tired. This is why when Europeans came into contact with actually existing polytheisms in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania in the early modern era, it set off a frenzy of destruction, subjugation and inhumanity. The old enemy was back.[2]

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Reawakening Of Pagan India And The Challenge It Can Pose To Abrahamic Worldviews: Part I - Swarajya

Review: Essay collection Vesper Flights reveres beauty, birds and spirituality – San Francisco Chronicle

Vesper Flights byHelen Macdonald Photo: Grove Press

Some great books come out of nowhere. In 2014, British nature writer Helen Macdonald published H Is For Hawk, a memoir tracing her struggle to train a goshawk as a means of grieving the sudden death of her father. The book garnered literary acclaim and became a surprise best-seller, deservedly. Hawk is a hawk of a book fast, smart, soaring with fierce beauty.

Macdonalds new book, Vesper Flights, takes wing in a different way: a collection of 41 essays, wildly variegated in subject matter. In her introduction, Macdonald likens the book to a Wunderkammer, or Cabinet of Wonder, after the ornate wooden cases that 16th century collectors would cram with fossils, feathers and animal skulls: It is full of strange things, and it is concerned with the quality of wonder.

It is that. Take the first essay, Nests. When I was small I wanted to be a naturalist, Macdonald begins, listing the items that as a little girl she gathered in her bedroom. Feathers, seeds, pine cones and, in particular, bird nests. The nests possessed a mysterious power. It was partly because they made me feel an emotion I couldnt name, and mostly because I felt I shouldnt possess them at all. From here Macdonald spirals outward, fascinatingly, into the fraught history of English egg-collecting, to the nature of nests for birds, of homes for human beings. And to the understanding that the sadness nests and their eggs stirred within her came from a long-buried loss of her own.

Its a bravura performance, displaying Macdonalds literary gifts: her curiosity, her intensity of attention. And her pleasure of her prose clear, tart, understated but regularly exploding into brilliance.

Over the course of Vesper Flights Macdonald shares her BBC-miniseries-worthy childhood, where she and her parents found themselves surrounded by elderly, eccentric Theosophists but where Macdonald had the freedom to explore nature. She travels to Hungary to study migrating Eurasian cranes, ascends to the Empire State Buildings Observation Deck to marvel at black-crowned night herons swirling above the Manhattan skyline. Some of the strongest essays are vignettes. In Inspector Calls, a family parents, 8-year-old son survey Macdonalds house as a rental possibility and encounter Macdonalds parrot. The essay is as quiet, economical and, at its end, as heart-piercing as any William Trevor short story.

Shadows fall over the book as Macdonald increasingly understands the natural world she reveres is endangered by forces beyond her control urban sprawl, climate change. But nature still offers the possibility of redemption. In the title essay, Vesper Flights, Macdonald ponders her favorite birds, swifts, and the summer evening flights that send them rising high into the sky until they vanish from sight. Vesper flights, these are called, Latin for evening. But, she notes, the word vespers also connotes evening prayers the last and most solemn of the day. That makes her consider human beings religious need to make sense of who and where we are. Sometimes, she suggests, like the swifts we must fly high to truly see ourselves and our world. This superb book helps us do that.

Vesper FlightsBy Helen MacdonaldGrove Atlantic(320 pages; $27)

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Review: Essay collection Vesper Flights reveres beauty, birds and spirituality - San Francisco Chronicle

Safety and spirituality: Youth groups plan to meet in-person during pandemic – Roanoke Times

She said she planned a hike before school starts and is brainstorming other ideas, but the church is prepared to conduct the program virtually if they have to.

St. Andrews Catholic Church in Roanoke has a similar plan: in-person but with a virtual backup plan.

Were trying to keep it as normal as we can, said Megan Gaskin, coordinator of youth ministry. If we need to, we are totally ready to go virtual.

Gaskin said St. Andrews program usually includes a gathering, with a game or activity, followed by a talk and a small group discussion. This year, the games will not involve physical contact or shared equipment, she said, and the small groups will be spread out.

Wearing masks and making use of outdoor space to socially distance will be important to success, Gaskin said.

I feel confident in it because weve gotten pretty good guidance form the diocese, she said, adding that St. Andrews is also following federal and state guidelines.

Even First Christian Church of Roanoke, which doesnt have a youth ministry program of its own, is still helping teenagers connect with their faith during COVID.

We dont have a youth group, but we bring them in from all over the East Coast, said Tim Dayton, pastor.

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Safety and spirituality: Youth groups plan to meet in-person during pandemic - Roanoke Times

God Is Dead. So Is the Office. These People Want to Save Both – The New York Times

Tara Isabella Burton, the author of Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, calls it the bespoke-ification of religion, or the unbundling of rituals a reference to how cable TV packages split apart after the advent of streaming services. In the unbundled world, people pick what they want from different faiths and incorporate it into their lives a little Buddhism here, a little kabbalah there. It is consumer-driven religiosity.

The idea is that what we want, what feels good to us, what we desire, that all of this is constitutive of who we are, rather than community, Ms. Burton said. We risk seeing spirituality as something we can consume, something for us, something for our brand.

In a workday spent at home, standing in front of a computer while meetings come and go, projects are received and filed, there is no differentiation. Every activity is, physically, the same.

Im hungry for ritual. Every day, I get dressed, put on shoes, make coffee, pour it in a mug and tell my two housemates that Im heading to work and will see em later. Then I walk in a few circles and settle in at a desk in the corner of our living room, just a couple feet away. This is my deranged coronavirus commute and its how I help my bleary mind realize that the workday has begun.

If my boss said we would be instituting a one-minute group breathing exercise in the evenings to mark the closing of our laptops, or beginning each meeting by all smelling a clove together, would I like it? I would.

Its easy to blur the line between routine and ritual. Which category is it, for example, to have a habit of taking a shower and staring at the ceiling for five minutes after accomplishing my days main task? Does the label matter, if the action feels essential?

To be technical, though, Kathleen McTigue, a Unitarian Universalist minister and a mentor to Mr. ter Kuile, offers a definition. She describes rituals as elevated routines, with set intention, attention and repetition.

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God Is Dead. So Is the Office. These People Want to Save Both - The New York Times

Spiritual Coffee and the Path toward Wokeness – Patheos

Embed from Getty Images

Im launching this blog at Patheos, titled Spiritual Coffee, at the tail end of summer of 2020. As some have noted, its been a summer like no other in living memory. There are still among us survivors of the invasion into Normandy, France in 1944; survivors of the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau; and survivors of Americas home grown internment camps at Manzanar, Topaz, Heart Mountain, and elsewhere. But for most of us: this summer of 2020 has been a unique time of anxiety, acedia, and often loneliness. How do we wake up from the nightmare of Coronatime? And whos to say if we are all not feeling a little trapped ?

Lets start with the easiest part: coffee is what gets me going in the morning. Its a stimulant: it helps wake me up. And since we are living in an age valuing wokeness, or being woke, evidently some of us are asleep and need some help. This value gives the sense that we better wake up, and smell the coffee. Coffee opens the doors of perception, and I want those doors flung open. As Walt Whitman wrote:

Unscrew the locks from the doors!Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

Coffee helps me do that . . . . and Im not the first Patheos blogger to announce the spirituality of coffee as a general principle!

And what about the spiritual? Nowadays, many people claim to be spiritual, but hardly anyone knows how to define the term. I know this for a fact, because I regularly teach a class titled spiritual lit. When I ask students on the first day how many consider themselves to be spiritual, most hands go up. When I ask them to tell me what it means, no hands go up. Its different for everyone, is about the best that I get from my students. Or, everyones entitled to their own opinion, which is a nonsense phrase that is surprisingly big on campus these days. Given its notorious complexity, we spend a semester trying to expand on that concept, thinking about how it relates to our lives.

In fact, the term spiritual is a translation of a common term in the New Testament, primarily in the works of St. Paul. The Greek word that is translated in most Bibles today as spiritual is pneumatikos, and becoming spiritual turns out to be a quintessential goal throughout Pauls teachings. (This may also be a surprise.) A spiritual being is one who is driven by the spirit, in the same way that a sailboat is driven by the wind. Paul describes a spiritual person as one who listens to the Spirit, walks by the Spirit, and is led by the Spirit. How are you doing so far?

Basically, a spiritual person suggests that our lives (and brains) are to be completely attuned to and fully driven by the Spirit. In theological jargon, I am speaking of a cosmic pneumatology with a dash of panentheism: a profound way of thinking about all of creation as permeated by the Spirit. Can a blog be permeated by the Spirit? Is a blog included in a cosmic pneumatology? Well see, and Im sure opinion will vary. But thats the plan.

In this blog, I will simply try to model in my writing what I am calling the spiritual life of the mind. What if we have lost touch with the elevated language in the New Testament about the transformation of our brains by the power of the Spirit? And what if part of our calling is to reach for and attain a serious, joyful, God-breathed life of the mind? Because in Ephesians we are told that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (1:3).

Lofty goals, no doubt. To attain them, we need all the coffee we can get, in this worthy pursuit of being woke to the Spirit, and how the Spirit is continuously at work within us and within all of Creation. As the great Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote:

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! Bright wings!

I love the ah!dont you? Hopkins seems fully woke: and wants us awake, too.

Similarly: my musings here on Spiritual Coffee are meant to provoke, prod, and inspire my readers to continue this journey that is the life of the Mind, in the hope that by our sympathies and meditations we can show ourselves to be worthy of the One Great Mind Who, as the ground and source of all Being, is truly Woke and always brooding over us.

Pass the cream!

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Spiritual Coffee and the Path toward Wokeness - Patheos

Republican National Convention kicks off with a near spiritual devotion to Trump – CNBC

U.S. President Donald Trump departs after addressing the first day of the Republican National Convention after delegates voted to confirm him as the Republican 2020 presidential nominee for reelection in Charlotte, North Carolina, August 24, 2020.

Leah Millis | Reuters

WASHINGTON The first night of the virtual Republican National Convention featured more than a dozen speakers. And while the GOP had fewer celebrities and fun backdrops than Democrats had last week, the evening technically went off without a hitch.

Trump himself only appeared on camera twice over the course of the night. But that didn't really matter, because Trump was everywhere. For two hours, speaker after speaker described the president in near-messianic terms, as a savior, a guide and a martyr.

It was only during the last three speeches, those of Donald Trump Jr., former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, that the focus really shifted from Trump to Democrat Joe Biden and the election in November.

If there was a unifying theme for the convention's first night, it was the lavish, devotional praise that speakers heaped on the president.

"Mr. President, you've done so much more than promises made and promises kept," said Natalie Harp, a woman fighting cancer who has benefited from a "Right to Try" bill passed with bipartisan support by Congress. "You have used your strength to make America strong again. Sacrificed the life you built to make America proud again. And risked everything to make America safe again."

Cancer survivor and Right to Try advocate Natalie Harp speaks during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast from Washington, U.S. August 24, 2020.

Republican National Convention | via Reuters

Pennsylvania GOP House candidate Sean Parnell spoke of Trump as a sort of savior. "Mr. President, lead the way. Millions in our American family believe in this path to destiny. Guide us to that horizon!"

"I love the President's intensity and his willingness to fight. But what I also appreciate is something most Americans never see how much he truly cares about people," said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump's most ardent backers in Congress.

"I pray every night, 'God, give him some more time. Give him four more years.' He has accomplished so much, almost all by himself and under constant attack," said former NFL player Herschel Walker.

Other speakers were more subtle, like Georgia Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones, who built his speech around a refrain of "Donald Trump did that."

But there was no single issue that speakers addressed over and over, such as national security or the economy. Instead, issues ranged from gun control, to medical experiments, to telehealth for Covid-19, to hostage return, to Cuba.

It felt at times like a convention for an audience of one, with several of the speakers addressing Trump directly through the television to praise him. For Trump, a president who loves compliments and loathes criticism, the night should have satisfied his craving for adulation.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, the National Chair of the "Trump Victory Finance Committee" and girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., delivers a pre-recorded speech to the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention, from Washington, U.S., August 24, 2020.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

"President Trump believes in you. He emancipates and lifts you up to live your American Dream!" said Trump campaign aide Kimberly Guilfoyle. "You are capable. You are qualified. You are powerful. And you have the ability to choose your life, and determine your destiny!"

Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., gave an especially passionate speech, often shouting and raising her arms. But delivered in an empty Mellon Auditorium, as most of Monday's speeches were, Guilfoyle's speech at times bordered on the surreal.

It's typical at conventions for the emotional temperature of the speeches to rise steadily as the night goes on, with the most passionate reserved for the end of the night. But Monday night for the GOP was the opposite.

Speaking third to last, Trump son Donald Jr. shifted the focus onto Biden with a memorable Trumpian insult, calling Biden "the Loch Ness monster of the swamp."

The last two speakers, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, gave the most measured speeches of the night.

Haley, widely seen as a front-runner to lead the Republican Party into a post-Trump era, whenever that day comes, spoke more about her own experience and about Biden than she did about Trump himself.

And rather than talk about the president and the election with the same spiritual zeal as earlier speakers, when she reached the point in her speech where she endorsed Trump, Haley said simply, "President Trump and Vice President Pence have my support."

Scott, likewise, spent most of his speech on more traditional themes of his own biography and the dangers of electing the other guy.

And while he was complimentary of Trump, when it came time for the endorsement line of his speech near the end, Scott, like Haley, did not go all in like earlier speakers did.

"Supporting the Republican ticket gives you the best chance of making [the American dream] a reality," said Scott, the only African American Republican in the Senate.

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) waits to speak to the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention in a live address from the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, U.S., August 24, 2020.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

The difference between Scott and Haley, versus everyone else who spoke on Monday, is that Scott and Haley are the only two speakers who haven't embraced Trump so tightly that they face no real political future without him.

But expect people like Haley and Scott to be exceptions this week, not the norm. The GOP is Trump's party in every sense of the word, and Monday only proved that the convention will be, too.

Anyone who questions where the GOP is today need look no further than the party's platform, or more accurately, it's non-platform.

For the first time in recent memory, the Republican National Committee did not adopt a party platform, instead issuing a resolution about how much the party supports Trump.

It reads in part, "Had the Platform Committee been able to convene in 2020, [it] would have undoubtedly unanimously agreed to reassert the Party's strong support for President Donald Trump and his Administration."

Thereby, the committee resolved, "That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President's America-first agenda," and "That the 2020 Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform."

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Republican National Convention kicks off with a near spiritual devotion to Trump - CNBC

Coronavirus Lockdowns Are Creating a Mental Health and Spiritual Crisis – The National Interest

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a dramatic rise in mental health problems. My own experience attests to this, as the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown led me into a state of clinical depression and anxiety from which I am still recovering.

And the data indicate that, unfortunately, my own experience is far from unusual.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May that a third of Americans suffered symptoms of clinical anxiety and depression since Apriltriple the 11% recorded in the first few months of 2019.

>>> Whats the best way for America to reopen and return to business? The National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, a project of The Heritage Foundation, assembled Americas top thinkers to figure that out. So far, it has made more than 260 recommendations.Learn more here.

Some populations are suffering more than others. Among women, blacks, and Hispanics, the percentage of those suffering mental health strain since April is around 40%. Amongyoung people(age 18-29), it is close to 50%.

Psychologists also worry that factors such as job loss and social isolationespecially disconnection from religious communitiesare creating the perfect storm for aspike in suicides.

In May, doctors at one California medical center said that during the quarantine they sawmore suicide deaths than deaths from COVID-19. Asurveyconducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the end of June revealed that 1 in 4 young adults (age 18-24) had seriously considered suicide in the past month.

Although anxiety about the virus itself or grief at the loss of loved ones certainly contribute to this rise in mental health problems, the measures being taken to contain the virus may actually be the biggest culprits.

Lockdowns have led tounemployment ratesmuch higher than the Great Recession, and comparable to that of the Great Depression. This has contributed not only to financial hardship but also to the loss of a sense of purpose and self-worth that come from meaningful work and economic self-sufficiency.

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Further, lockdowns have blocked off or severely reduced some of the most important sources of support during times of crisis: close, in-person social interactionincluding the comfort and consolation of human touchas well as the solace, meaning, and connection provided by communal religious practice.

The loss of loved ones has been made more difficult to bear by the inability to gather to mourn their deaths. More generally, social distancing measures and ubiquitous mask-wearing threaten to dehumanize our day-to-day contact with others, making us likely to view others with fear and suspicion as potential sources of infection, rather than with empathy as fellow human beings.

I am not suggesting that we throw caution to the wind and go on with life as if the pandemic did not exist. But many experts believe that broad-based lockdownsrather than morelimited measurestargeting specific hot spots and vulnerable populationsare not truly effective.

As the wisdom of our current lockdown measures continues to be debated, it is important to recognize that they come with real, serious, long-term human costs to individuals and society as a whole, and to be willing to ask hard questions about the trade-offs.

The tenor of public discussion on these matters has unfortunately become polarized and politicized. Those who express worries about the negative effects of lockdowns are branded as callously prioritizing the economy over the preservation of human life. The truth, however, is much more complex.

Every human life has intrinsic value, and the protection of human life is a critical element of the common good. However, as Aristotle famously emphasized, the ultimate goal of political society is to make it possible not just to survive, but to thriveand if the rise in mental health problems is any indication, our society is currently falling fall short of that goal.

We recognize implicitly that physical health does not trump all competing goods. For instance, we accept that the benefits of being able to quickly travel long distances are worth the risk of deaths and injuries that could be avoided if speed limits were much lower.

Just as prudent deliberations about speed limits need to consider the costs and benefits not only with regard to safety, but also with regard to other important goods, so too with our deliberations about reopening.

Of course, the recommendations of public health officials need to be taken into account. We should be aware, though, that those recommendations often are based on incomplete data and predictive models that arefar from certain. It is unreasonable to let such recommendations dictate public policy without broader discussion.

The preservation of physical health is crucial, yes, but it is not the only important public good that needs to be taken into consideration.

Think, for instance, about the question of whether toreopen schoolsfor in-person instruction this fall. On the one hand, no matter how many precautions are taken, in-person instruction obviously increases the risk of catching COVID-19 for teachers, students, and their families. Online instruction is undoubtedly safer if we are thinking only about the preservation of physical health.

But what about the many other goods at stake? The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement at the end of June strongly recommending that schools attempt to provide in-person instruction for all students, noting the negative impact of school closures not only on childrens learning, but also on theirphysical and mental health. (Although the academy later softened its stancearguably for political reasonsthe concerns animating the initial recommendation remain valid.)

School closures also have a significant negative impact on families and on the economy as a whole. Even for parents able to work from home, the idea that one can simultaneously work full-time and supervise the education of young children is unrealistic in most cases.

Some children and families may do just fine withoutin-school instructionand parents should have the option of online instruction oranother form of homeschoolingif they believe it best. But other children may end up lagging behind in their educational development and suffering from social isolation in ways that have long-term effects. And some families may end up facing disastrous financial consequences.

All of these negative impacts are also likely to exact a significant toll on mental health. Public officials should think long and hard about these broader costs to children, families, and society as a whole before choosing not to reopen schools, particularly given evidence indicating that the risk to children of serious COVID-19 infection is low, and thatyoung children appear less likely to spread the disease.

Think also about debates regarding restrictions on religious gatherings. Was it necessary to forbid allin-person publicreligious gatheringsno matter how small or socially distancedduring the lockdown? What value judgments are implicit in deeming churches nonessential, while liquor stores were allowed to remain in operation?

And why were there no public health restrictions on most protests following the tragic death of George Floyd, though severe restrictions or prohibitions on even outdoor religious gatherings remained in place? Freedom of association and the right to political protest are fundamental, but so is the right to free exercise of religion.

Particularly during difficult times, religion and religious community are powerful sources of much-needed solace, strength, meaning, and connectionboth to other human beings and to Godthat are crucial for the flourishing of both individuals and society as a whole.

My point in discussing these debates surrounding schools and churches is not to suggest any particular course of action, or to condemn any particular decisions that have been made thus far, but to provide examples of the kinds of hard questions that we need to ask in considering how to move forward.

There are no simple answers to these questions. But the dramatic decline in mental health that has resulted in part from the restrictions put in place to contain the virus should make us recognize that it would be a serious mistake to fail to ask them.

We cant simply presume that the effort to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus needs to trump all other goals in determining how best to respond to the current pandemic.

We need to take precautions, particularly for the protection of more vulnerable populations, but fear of death should not prevent us, individually or as a society, from seeking to lead a fully flourishing human life.

This article by Melissa Moschella firstappearedinThe Daily Signalon August 18, 2020.

Image: Reuters.

Originally posted here:

Coronavirus Lockdowns Are Creating a Mental Health and Spiritual Crisis - The National Interest

They also serve who only stand and wait: Ethical and spiritual response to the covid-19 pandemic – The BMJ – The BMJ

John Miltons sonnet On his blindness, expresses the sense of powerlessness, frustration, and even guilt that many feel in responding to situations beyond their control, where their ability for active participation to act from the common good is limited. [1] We applaud and respect the considerable efforts and sacrifices made by those who provide public services in the face of covid-19 especially those frontline workers in health and social care roles.

There have been heartfelt expressions of support and solidarity e.g. volunteering initiatives such as transporting patients, delivering drugs and equipment, telephone support, community responses or simple acts of kindness. [2] In this situation where so many are trying to help what part might ethical and spiritual services play?

As well as physical, social, and economic effects, pandemics and our responses to them, provide ethical challenges. The latter pose risks of moral distress, either with individuals knowing the right course of action, but constrained by lack of resources or with conflict over what course of action is right. [3] If the negative effects of exposure to morally distressing situations is prolonged and cumulative as during a pandemic, moral injury may result, and has been correlated with compassion fatigue and burnout. [4]

The causes of moral distress are numerous, but a major factor on the healthcare response to pandemics relates to the changing ethical imperatives that providing care for large numbers of sick people brings. In most healthcare systems, professional duty is defined by the principle of making the care of individual patients the primary concern. [5] In pandemics, there are tensions between this individualised approach based on clinical need and duties to the wider population in terms of minimising harms and maximising benefits. Deciding on what care is provided shifts from consideration of an individuals needs, to whether s/he is likely to especially benefit from the intervention. This tension creates moral dilemmas when resources (staff, beds, equipment) are limited, yet urgent and frequent existential decisions have to be made, with the usual uncertainty over outcomes. These decisions are challenging, but nonetheless necessary, with some professionals needing to act out-with their usual areas of expertise.

Consequently, a number of professional bodies have provided ethical frameworks for policy making and decision-making, some specific to covid-19. [6,7] As helpful as these may be at the meta policy-making level, they do not usually indicate what practical support ethics and spiritual care may provide. A traditional view on ethics support is that it has the role of a chorus in a Greek tragedy by offering advice history and support for the protagonist: Its virtue is its presence and its sympathy and its clear meditation on his or her predicament in a social and historical context. [8] It may also function as a moral memory to be recalled in future events. This important reflective, but largely reactive, role has been superseded and the practical input from ethics and spiritual services in alleviating moral distress and preventing moral injury are increasingly recognised.

The need for a later return to a healthcare profession not broken by the experience of covid-19 has been underappreciated as yet.

In terms of local more individualised responses to the covid-19 pandemic, ethics support services can:

Since religion and spirituality offer, for many, the foundation of moral and ethical decision-making, spiritual support should be provided for all who would like it. This includes ensuring its practical provision for patients, their families and professionals within the constraints imposed by covid-19 measures. The role of faith and spiritual care for staff, particularly those struggling with decisions made and their results, is imperative and should be actively offered by multi-faith/non-faith Chaplaincy/Spiritual Care teams.

While those providing ethical and spiritual support may not be numbered among the Thousands at his bidding speed and post oer Land and Ocean without rest, their role is attracting wider recognition as Frances establishment of regional multidisciplinary ethics support indicates. [1,9] Surely, they fulfil Miltons ultimate message of hope for humanity in that They also serve who only stand and wait.

Vic Larcher, retired paediatrician, Paediatric Bioethics Centre, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust

Jim Linthicum, deputy director & lead chaplain, Paediatric Bioethics Centre, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust

Joe Brierley, director and intensivist, Paediatric Bioethics Centre, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust

Competing interests: None declared


1. John Milton. Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent. Available at:https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44750/sonnet-19-when-i-consider-how-my-light-is-spent. (accessed 09/04/20)

2. NHSE Volunteers website Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/participation/get-involved/volunteering/nhs-volunteer-responders/ (accessed 08/04/20)

3.Morley G What is moral distress in nursing? How, can and should we respond to it? J Clin Nurs. 2018 Oct; 27(19-20): 34433445.

4. Rushton C & Carse A. (2016). Towards a new narrative of moral distress: Realizing the potential of resilience. Journal of Clinical Ethics, 27(3), 214218.

5. GMC Good Medical Practice. Available at https://www.gmc-uk.org/ethical-guidance/ethical-guidance-for-doctors/good-medical-practice/duties-of-a-doctor. (accessed 09/04/20)

6. Department of Health and Social Care U. Guidance. Responding to COVID-19: the ethical framework for adult social care. 2020.

7. BMA Covid-19 Ethics. Available https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/covid-19/ethics/covid-19-ethical-issues (Accessed 09/04/20)

8. King N. The ethics committee as Greek chorus. HEC Forum 1996; 8, 6: 346-5

9. Covid-19: Can Frances ethical support units help doctors make challenging decisions? Available at: The BMJ https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1291 (accessed 09/04/20)

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They also serve who only stand and wait: Ethical and spiritual response to the covid-19 pandemic - The BMJ - The BMJ